Friday, April 8, 2016

Games for Brains: Flash Point

Flash Point
Playing Time: ~45 Minutes.
Players: 1-6
This game is definitely not marketed for children, nor would I buy it just for the kids.  It is one of the first cooperative board games I got.  My dad, brother and I played often, especially around holiday breaks.  The idea is that you're all firemen trying to save victims from a burning building.  You have to put out fires, prevent explosions and save the people, before too many of the die or the building falls down around you.  While it is slightly complicated at first, it was easy enough once we got going.  I also liked that the rules included quite a few variations to make it simpler or more difficult, including two different playing boards.  When Xander was about 4-4.5 he started joining in the play.  Since everyone playing either wins or loses together, it encourages cooperative play and strategy, which was perfect for bringing him in.  I'm a little bit selective about which character I give him, since some of them have complicated rules, but he's pretty good at knowing what he/should do on his turn.  It is a great way for him to be included in something we would want to be doing when we get together anyway.  I think this is a great introductory game as a bridge to the world of grown up games.  We've played with some non gaming friends (including a 10 & a 12 year old) and they seemed to pick it up just fine. There's really no reading required for this game (other than reading the rules).

Brain Value:
While it doesn't explicitly focus on any academic skills, I see a lot of logic development.  Since we plan strategy cooperatively, he can hear the adults' thought process and pick up our reasoning.  He's started being able to plan ahead a little bit and figuring out which is the best use of resources and number of moves.  These are skills he can carry over into other games and even other types of tasks.

Taking it Beyond the Game:
First of all, the game pieces are little fire fighers, so Xander usually has the extras to play with while we're playing the game.  He also likes to use the game to come up with his own imaginative games.  I believe when this picture was taken there were a couple of sibling firefighters with super powers that had to save the people.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Games for Brains: Sushi Go

Playing Time: ~15 Minutes
Players: 2-5

This game plays a little differently than all of our other card games.  Each player gets a hand of so many cards, looks at them all and selects one to keep.  Then everyone passes the hand of cards to the next player.  The cards keep rotating until they're all gone.  Each card has different types of sushi on them, and each type of sushi scares differently.  Some just give you points, some give you increasing numbers of points depending on how many you have, some you only score points on if you have more than everyone else.  Overall, I think it is a cute game that goes pretty quickly.  It's also nice for a variety of players.  That being said, I probably wouldn't play it with just adults.

Brain Value:
This game definitely has some memory and strategic thinking.  For example, the shashimi only score points if you have three of them.  Since you've seen all/both of the hands, you may realize that there are only two left, so it wouldn't make sense to take one (unless you see that the opponent has one and you want to block them from getting the points).  You have figure out what you're likely to get in upcoming hands and decide what would be most advantageous.  For added brain value, I make Xander figure his own score for each round (I add the totals for all three rounds to get the final).  He's getting pretty good at adding them in his head.

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